Real Estate Agents – Help Your Homebuyers Avoid Being Scammed

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Association of REALTORS® have announced concerns over closing cost scams.

Here’s how the scam works: Hackers break into a consumer’s or real estate professional’s email account to search for upcoming real estate transactions and closing dates. Then, hackers pose as the agent or title officer and email the homebuyer with a last-minute change to the wiring instructions. Should buyers wire money to the account, they will lose the money and likely lose the home they’ve been waiting for due to a lack of funds.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your clients don’t fall victim to this scam:

Ensure you have a united effort between agents, loan officers, closing attorneys and title officers to remind buyers of the dangers of this scam. Verify that changes to wiring instructions will not be requested by email.

Remind buyers to be alert. They should not follow instructions regarding closing funds solely from an email but when instructed to do so in person or by phone.

Add a brief warning to your email signature that reminds clients to remain cautious about suspicious messages during their transaction, especially near closing.

Do not conduct business over public Wi-Fi and be cautious about links that you click on. As an agent, transaction information is a highly valuable target for scammers and hackers.

Use secure document technology sharing and signing any sensitive documents. Our ULConnect App provides a safe, secure portal for sharing information.

Remember, email is almost never a secure communication platform, so take precautions to protect your clients.

Real Estate Agents Can Be Marketing Stars with Video

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At Universal Lending  we are big proponents of using videos to up your businesses’ marketing efforts. For real estate agents, sharing videos on your social media and website can help capture attention of new homebuyers and sellers or potential business partners. Videos can also help you build trust and show your expertise or place in the community. Here are four ways real estate agents can be the star of their marketing! 

Profile yourself. A short agent profile video can warm cold prospects and provide insight into who you are, what sets you apart, and how you can help clients best. Make sure to talk about your mission, services, how you work with your homebuyers and sellers, and anything else you want to share.  Use this video on your website and LinkedIn profile, and pin it to the top of your Facebook page.

Share your business wisdom. How-to, Q&As, and just-for-fun videos are popular and can help you share more about you and your business. Topics could include creating curb appeal on a budget,  staging secrets, how to prepare for a house hunt,  how to save for a down payment and much more!

Share your community expertise. Highlight local neighborhoods, interesting historical facts, great parks or hikes, schools, restaurants, or other attractions. Share the videos with any businesses you highlight. They may want to feature your video themselves.

Go behind the scenes. Reveal how you set up open houses or prepare for a photoshoot on a new listing. Give a sneak peek of open houses you’ll be hosting or share a special feature from a home while you’re hosting an open house – a cool kitchen, amazing storage space, a beautiful back yard. Home sellers will be especially happy to get a glimpse into your marketing efforts.

Share testimonials. Interview clients on how you helped them buy their first home, find their dream house, or sell the home they had for much more than expected in much less time. Referral colleagues can also provide great testimonials on the benefits of working with you or referring business your way. Always get permission to share these videos on your social media accounts or website.

Do you have video secrets you want to share? Please do! Email marketing@ulc.com to let us know more about how you set yourself apart as a video star.

Agents Can Work Faster and Smarter, and Stay Safer, with a Few Great Apps

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Real estate agents have a lot going on so anything that can make their job a little easier is always welcome. Here are some great apps for agents. Check these out and see if they help you work faster and smarter, and stay a little safer.

Bmonitored: This app provides a way to have safe meetings with strangers. Enter a meeting start time and safety alert times. Bmonitored will then ask you for confirmation that you are safe at the interval you have selected. Once you respond with your one-digit personal PIN, the system clock resets until your next safety alert interval. If you do not respond, your emergency contacts and the authorities are notified with your last GPS coordinates.

Magic Plan: Magic Plan will make you feel like a real magician when you create accurate floor plans quickly and easily on your iPad or your iPhone. Use the camera of your device and while turning around, mark the corners of your space. When you are finished, Magic Plan aggregates a floorplan!

With just a little practice you’ll be capturing a room using Magic Plan within a minute. That’s saving you a lot of time – plus the cost of employing someone else to measure it!

Homesnap: This app lets you snap a photo of any home to reveal home value estimates, interior photos, bedrooms, bathrooms, taxes, lot boundaries, public school information and more. In addition, consumers use Homesnap to search for homes every month, and each time they have a question about your listing, real estate agents using Homesnap Pro get the lead instantly for free.

Homesnap also comes with a safety timer or sends distress alerts if an agent is in danger.

Open Home Pro: Open house visitors sign in with a name, email address and other relevant information online rather than on a sheet of paper that you may or may not be able to read. After each open house, visitors receive a professional follow up email with the agent’s contact information. Agents receive a list of leads who don’t have an agent or a home to sell so they can act quickly to capture potential home buyers.

Postagram: This app is just plain fun and good business. Use your photos from Instagram, Facebook and your camera roll to design postcards. Customize the colors to match your style and choose your designs. These are great ways to easily stay in touch with a personal message with your homebuyers. And wouldn’t it be fun to send a photo message after a closing with your homebuyers in front of their new home or at the closing? Postagram helps keep business personal.

These are just a few of the great apps agents can use for business (and for fun!). Check these out today for the boost your business needs now.

Universal Lending is Pleased to Offer Non-QM Loan Programs

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We are pleased to offer the following Non-QM programs to make sure our business partners and our homebuyers have access to all the loan products they need. Take a look at some of what we can help you with. Questions? Please let us know. 

ITIN: Designed to help a borrower with a tax ID number but no social security number. Full or Alternative Doc accepted. LTV up to 85% and DTI up to 55%.

Land Loans: Allow for the purchase of raw land or vacant acreage.

ALT-A Premier: A great solution for the Agency Fallout borrower – Non-QM, Self-Employed or ITIN. Full or Alternative Doc accepted. LTV up to 85% and DTI up to 55%.

Bank Statement: Perfect fit for 1099 or self-employed borrowers who prefer to use the business or personal bank statements to document their income, rather than using tax returns.

Jumbo: Use this program for larger loans with balances up to $6 million for Non-QM, Self-Employed, ITIN, and previous credit borrowers. Full or Alternative Doc accepted. LTV up to 75%.

Near Miss Mortgage: A solution for a borrower with a previous bankruptcy, foreclosure, or short sale. No seasoning required on the credit event. Gift funds are accepted. Full or Alternative Doc accepted. LTV up to 80%.

Ready Asset Loan Program: For clients that have assets they own but do not necessarily want to use them to purchase a home. No income needed to qualify. The lender validates that the borrowers have enough assets to cover their debts through a 3rd party. LTV up to 85%.

Please let us know if we can offer any assistance with any of these Non-QM Loan Programs.

Scaredy Cat Sellers: You can sell your home and move into your dream home in this market

Arrow Shaped Home For Sale Sign

“I’d sell my house but where would I go?”

In Colorado and across the hottest housing markets in the United States, potential home sellers are asking themselves this very question. “Where will I go when my home is sold?” Scarcity has reared its head, and in turn, is helping to drive housing markets into some of the lowest inventory levels ever seen.

But is burying your head in the sand and waiting for the market to change the best way to make financial decisions that will impact you and your family now and in the future? Perhaps there are ways to put this sellers’ market to work for you as a home seller and a home buyer.

According to some of metro Denver’s Realtors, what you need in a market like this is a good team on your side, a bit of preparation before you begin the process of buying or selling, and a healthy dose of gumption. And they all agree that you can sell and buy a house with those pieces in place.

Why make a move now in this market?

Home prices and mortgage interest rates are continuing to rise. So, although staying where you are and waiting for the market to “fix itself” may seem safe, you’re betting against yourself. As interest rates rise, the amount a buyer qualifies for goes down. As time goes by and home prices rise, buyers may find that they qualify for less home.

“It’s a unique time to make a move in the Denver Metro real estate market,” says Jamie Nevers, Real Estate Advisor with the Legends Team of Your Castle Realty. But selling your current home and buying your next dream home is possible. Sellers can use the equity in their home, buy a home that better suits their needs, and use the equity they have accumulated to put a larger down payment on a home, while keeping their mortgage payments close to what they are accustomed to, she notes.

“Just because you are making a move doesn’t mean that you have to overpay or have a larger mortgage payment to reach your goals,” she says.

Julie Voorhees, a Realtor with Keller Williams Action Realty, echoes Nevers, adding that to forge ahead in this market buyers and sellers must get in the right mindset and have reasonable expectations and a strong team supporting them, whether they are buyers, sellers or both.

“In this market we have been experiencing ‘seller greed’ and ‘buyer fatigue,’” says Voorhees. Now is not the time to enter the market on your own. “The best way to be positioned to buy and sell is to have an excellent Realtor and lender… This is a skills market. Hire someone who has the skills.”

Why do sellers need a Realtor in a market like this?

First and foremost, if homeowners are selling their home with the intention of moving to another, they need to have their “ducks in a row,” before they make a move. They need to be agile and ready. A Realtor is positioned to help them negotiate offers on their current home, find the right home to purchase, and get their offered accepted on the new home, something that can prove challenging. Now is not the time for sellers or buyers to go-it-alone.

But what if a homeowner who wants to move still feels nervous about putting out the “for sale” sign?

Amy Hitch, a Realtor with HomeSmart Cherry Creek, acknowledges that for sellers who want to make a move now, letting go of your current home feels risky. The looming question, “Where will I go?” never disappears.

“I remind them that I am here to help them through the entire process. You never know what a day will bring, and what will be listed and on the market tomorrow,” she says.

She also educates her sellers who are looking to move to their next home about “buy before you sell” programs to ensure homeowners are ready to make a move when the sold sign goes up in their yard.

Voorhees complements this suggestion with other ways that home sellers can make their decision to sell and move less stressful. She reminds her sellers that they can ask for a lease back period of 60 or more days, which gives the sellers time to purchase their next home, or they can ask for a delayed closing, again providing sellers the cushion they need.

Nevers offers yet another approach – She recommends being proactive, having a pre-approval letter from the lender and being ready when your home goes under contract to start looking for your new home immediately. She works with her buyers to be strategic and practice patience.

“Start looking in the areas you are interested in purchasing as soon as possible and educate yourself on what a strong offer looks like in that area. When you do find the perfect home, you can put your highest and best offer in without hesitation,” she concludes.

As with anything in real estate, these professionals all agree that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in this market, but with the right team, the right amount of persistence, and a bit of gumption, there is something for every seller and every buyer, and they can help any scaredy cat seller off the fence and into their new home

Universal Lending Supports Our Partners in Business Success

We Build Relationships

Knowledge, communication and customer service are paramount to our business and to our partners’ businesses. When you work with Universal Lending, we make it easy for you to provide the very best in marketing communications to your clients before, during and after the transaction, with co-branding opportunities that matter.

ULConnect — Our mobile app allows borrowers to calculate mortgage options, scan encrypted paperwork from their phones, apply for a loan, and know what’s happening during their transaction.

Loan Status Updates – Our emails keep clients and you up-to-date throughout the home buying transaction.

Open House Fliers – Show off the home you are selling with pictures, property, information and loan scenarios.

Homebot – This monthly email empowers consumers to build wealth with their home. Universal Lending is first-to-market in Colorado and able to offer you the best pricing.

#FirstMove Program
With our #FirstMove videos, former Denver Bronco Reggie Rivers interviews our first-time homebuyers about their experience buying their first home. Our team of professional videographers works with Universal Lending to create short videos.

Informational papers and landing pages on topics for those looking to purchase a home. Titles include, “The Newlywed’s Guide to Homeownership,” and “Why Your Landlord Thinks He’s Smarter Than You.”

Preferred Lender Program with businesses, schools, police and fire stations. Includes presentations and educational seminars to offer a value-add to Colorado employees.

Educational animated videos about the home-buying process. Topics include: “5 Key Factors to Your Home Loan” and “Why is Buying a House So Complicated?” Coming soon: “The Loan Process Explained.

Do you want to learn more about these and other co-branding opportunities? Please email marketing@ulc.com.